Saturday, June 25, 2005

Now slinking into a Dark Cabal near you

I was invited to join some time ago, but needed to set aside time to figure out the Protocols of Planet Blog. I will no doubt violate many of them here. Forgive me; I am of a slinky and not terribly computer-talented species. Opposable thumbs seem like a waste of perfectly good claws.

Let me introduce myself here. As a member of this Dark Cabal, which is supposed to rabble-rouse and castigate and pan and let chips fall where they may, I am a complete poseur, because I like most everything I read. I like the work of Rob Sawyer. I actually love Stephen King. I understand to be sophisticated you aren't supposed to like either of those writers. I enjoy most of the stuff I read in Analog and all the digests although sometimes I want to pick up a red pen and help out. I like almost everything I read in small press; I suspect if an editor liked it, I will too.

I like Star Wars better than Star Trek. People tell me this is because I have an authoritarian personality, that I don't understand the democratic ideals of Trek. I'm sure they're right. Star Wars is about Rightful Kings and worth determined by ancestry, and Star Trek is about not violating Planetary Protection Protocols (which they call the Prime Directive). I watch Star Trek to be companionable but tend to wander away if not supervised.

However, I am a Democrat. I don't know what that means.

I read romance occasionally and often like it quite a lot. I think it's underrated because male reviewers and college profs dismiss predominantly female issues such as nurturance.

I read chewing gum. I picked up a Modesty Blaise book recently and liked that, too, although not well enough to read another one.

My tastes don't descend to liking everything I read, however. For example, I sometimes teach, and students offer me game scenarios, survivalist wet-dreams, or generic fantasy. I try to be nice, but I hate that stuff. I secretly believe the personalities of some people are either so poisonous or so saccharine that they should do something else, maybe torch abandoned buildings or paint pre-formed Hummel figurines.

I like some of the high cult stuff well enough, although I must say hearing it read by the author makes it more enjoyable. I really found John Updike very ho-hum until I heard him read. It wasn't that he was a congenial person; I and a number of women in the audience expressed a belief that he's quite arrogant and also a misogynist. But when he read his work, it was funny. I got it.

In detective fiction, I like just everything, and I've decided I will not analyze it with conventional critical tools, because really all I want is freshness, surprise, and a lot of corpses. I like really violent mysteries, like Andrew Vachss. I have a horrid suspicion I like this stuff because it appeals to the part of me that says, "Women are in danger all the time. Women are natural victims. Watch out for the serial killer hiding under your car." It's not very feminist. It's because I was a cat in a former life.

So, Dark Cabal: why am I here? Certainly not because I'm planning to slam current fiction, although if I happen across something overrated, that would be fun. It's because I enjoy being part of something dark and sneaky. It's because I was a cat in a former life.

22 Comments:

Blogger Johnny Dark said...

Welcome to the dark.

Burning issues at the moment: Is _DaVinci Code_ bad, or is it both bad and also unclear? And, is there still a role for gender exploration books in SF, or is it all just so 70s that we're bored?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Safe Light said...

And thanks for making your inclusive tastes clear. We wouldn't want to be mistaken for middle brow. :)

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny, bless your black soul, Da Vinci code is actually bad, certifiably so. It panders. It makes people think they are clever for solving problems that are stupid and simple. It makes people think they are feminists because they think Mary Magdelene got a raw deal (which she did, as did the BVM).

But it was nice to see blasphemy bet its day in court, even if it was sort of watered-down.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say any of this stuff was good. I just said it isn't actually annoying and I like it. I like cheese curls, too, but that doesn't mean they're good.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think [romance is] underrated because male reviewers and college profs dismiss predominantly female issues such as nurturance."

Oh good. More black-and-white dichotomies. So subtle.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Brickworks said...

I also like Star Wars more than Star Trek. It's the cool factor. SW has swords and fighter jets.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

Hi, anonymous,

Pseudonymnity is the name of the game here. If you hit "other" on the "chose an identity" box, you should be able to use a pseudonym to post.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous azureus said...

I'm new to your blog. Just stopped in to say, I like what you're doing here. Is this pseudonymnitous enough for you, or should I bury my identity further still?

2:07 PM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

Oh, the pseudonyms are optional, not mandatory. I was just kvetching about people posting as "anonymous," since it gets confusing which anonymous is which.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous johnny dark said...

perhaps this is better?

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, "Johnny Dark," are complaining about people posting anonymously?!

Sincerely,
Biteme, Mexican Wrestler

4:01 PM  
Anonymous scifiBox said...

I am another new person to the blog, and I have found the various discussions very interesting.

A recurring theme seems to be the issue of a quality work versus something with a better marketing campaign, more connections, etc. Your--and by "your" I mean several of the DC bloggers--express a desire for the quality side of things.

But, it occurs to me--and forgive me if my impression is mistaken--that more attention is given to printed works as opposed to works appearing online.

Granted, the number of webzines and ezines far outnumber print magazines, and a good number of them are not worth the electrons that compose them. But, print publications have their fair share of crummy colleagues as well.

My feeling is that being "in print" is not nearly as meaningful as what it once was, and that online publication is just as valid.

I hope that you do not neglect works from such publications, as there are a number of quality stories that can be found in those virtual pages.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Qwui said...

Welcome to the monkey jungle, E&I.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous johnny dark said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

Hi, Gabe-- assuming that really is who you are-- Yes, you demonstrate a good point. The system does allow you to spoof it, if you want to, and pretend to be somebody else.

It is, however, rather a violation of good netiquite.

-Biteme, I was advocating posting pseudonymously rather than anonymously. If there's something ironic about that, I missed it.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is, however, rather a violation of good netiquite."

And posting without sharing your real name is good netiquite? By what standard? And since this is a self-proclaimed "cabal," how do any of us know that there is more than one person posting under any of these names? (Fake identities have been promoted this way before, and recently; see some of the recent posts in the Speculations Rumor Mill.)

"-Biteme, I was advocating posting pseudonymously rather than anonymously."
And the distinction is? See above post; no reader knows that there is more than one person posting here, except by your say so.

Sharing names is a kind of credibility through responsibility; you don't get to hide yours and make netiquite points.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

anonymous wrote: And posting without sharing your real name is good netiquite? By what standard?

Net names have been used since the very beginning of the internet; in fact, since way before the internet, when it was all bboards and BITnet. Heavens, you kids today probably think that "True Names" wasn't an accurate portrait of the hacker community in the 80s.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Net names have been used for some time, yes. Is this your criteria for judging them as good, then? Length of time a practice has been around?

You've answered neither point, johnny dark.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Maureen McHugh said...

C'mon johnny. Answer the questions!

1:56 PM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

I've been a bit bemused by the way people are more interested in discussing anonymity than discussing stories... I may gather my thoughts together, if I have any thoughts worth gathering, and write a post, when I get a few moments free to do so.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is because you've said almost nothing of importance about stories. That leaves only your pseudonyms to discuss.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Johnny Dark said...

I woke up yesterday feeling rather rotten, and discovered I had a bit of a fever, so yesterday I didn't get around to posting the comment on anonymity; but I'm not feeling quite so awful today, so it's posted now.

1:06 PM  

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